MONTEREY, Calif. -- West Nile virus has been detected in Monterey County for the first time this year, county health officials announced Monday.
The virus was found in a dead bird located in the 93908 zip code of Monterey County south of Salinas and is the first official discovery of the virus in a bird in the area since 2013, according to the county.
County officials said birds and humans both receive the virus the same way, through mosquito bites.
"Monterey County residents should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites," Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said in a statement. "West Nile virus can be a serious disease, particularly for the elderly and people with certain medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease."
Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, joint pain, weakness and body aches. Severe cases may see vision loss, seizures and paralysis.
Standing water is a place where mosquito populations can fester into the thousands.
"With the combination of the warm weather and water in yard containers, we really need the public to do their part and empty any water that might be around their property," said Ken Klemme, a biologist and manager of the Northern Salinas Valley Mosquito Abatement District.
County officials suggest that residents use insect repellent, wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure, and to make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
Residents who see standing water they can't drain themselves are advised to call the mosquito abatement district at (831) 422-6438.
The environmental health bureau can also respond to "green" swimming pools that may be hazards or potential mosquito breeding grounds. Salinas residents can call (831) 755-4508, people in Monterey can call (831) 647-7654 and King City residents should contact (831) 755-4505.
The county suggests that residents report dead birds or squirrels to the West Nile virus hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD or www.westnile.ca.gov.
For more information on mosquitoes in the Monterey area, people can visit the Northern Salinas Valley Mosquito Abatement District's website at www.montereycountymosquito.com, call (831) 422-6438, or visit their office at 342 Airport Blvd. in Salinas.